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Why girls tend to get better grades than boys do

As the new school year ramps up, teachers and parents need to be reminded of a well-kept secret: Across all grade levels and academic subjects, girls earn higher grades than boys. Not just in the United States, but across the globe, in countries as far afield as Norway and Hong Kong.

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Delay the dreaded middle school years, study says

A new study published in the journal Psychology of Women Quarterly found that delaying middle school might help girls remain free of body image issues until at least slightly later in life. They studied three different populations: junior high (grades K-6 together in one school and 7-8 in another), middle school (grades K5 and 6-8) and extended middle school (K4 and 5-8).

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Beyond the MCAS tests

The MCAS tests were never expected to be the last word in academic evaluation in Massachusetts. The Common Core and the PARCC tests are a reasonable attempt to take the state's standards and evaluation regime to the next level. Educators should give it a shot and make it work – while keeping a balanced perspective about the value and limitations of any standardized tests.

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Costs soar as Pennsylvania keeps 500 districts

This campaign season is consumed by the question of whether Gov. Tom Corbett actively cut school funding by $1 billion or passively allowed that amount in federal subsidies to expire without replacing it. Obscured by the debate are questions regarding school costs and governance, including pension reform, benefit costs and whether the state needs 500 public school districts.

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Government needs to re-examine school lunch rules

While it might have been easy to ignore angry students and parents, the School Nutrition Association's survey results and the USDA’s own records clearly show the new federal lunch program has gone too far. It’s time for Congress to dial back parts of the act and find a more balanced approach to providing appealing, healthy meals to students.

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Deciphering the latest MCAS

At least 60 percent of the state's districts have agreed to have their students take the proposed PARC. State citizens will make a decision next year when a vote on switching from MCAS to PARCC is made. Despite continued grumbling about the MCAS and the pressures this puts on students and schools, this may be one case where better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.

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Pa. system of school construction reimbursement needs a fix

Taxpayers pay both the administrative costs in local schools for handling the paperwork overload and the interest on bonds from the uncertainty in reimbursement. If lawmakers can’t see clear to ease the property tax burden, the very least they could do is make it easier, and cheaper, for schools to deal with state requirements.

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Inconsistency in school test standards is not good for anyone

There’s nothing wrong with demanding accountability and higher standards, but inconsistency in the tools used to measure them doesn’t do anyone any good. Nor does excessive delays in reporting the measures, especially in this era of electronic, digital, high-tech testing and analytics.

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Report cards don't tell school's whole story

As an educational tool, Wisconsin's report cards for public schools can be educational for schools to spur improvement — but not everything that's important about a school or school district. Beware of any attempts by legislators or others to attach higher stakes to them, such as a loss of state funding or a loss of local control.

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The myth about public schools

The truth is, today's young people do need more, or at least different, kinds of training and education to succeed in the global marketplace for talent. And plenty of policy changes could help improve outcomes for our most disadvantaged students. In the meantime, let's stop denying the measurable progress that U.S. schools have made in the last half-century.

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